I had the good fortune and privilege of growing up in an environment that taught me I could do anything I put my mind to. Perhaps as the only sister of four loving brothers with a hardworking mother who ran her own clinic in a rural town and a fully present, supportive father, there was no reason for me to believe that being born a girl was a disadvantage. This foundation not only shaped my sense of self-esteem but also allowed me to foster relationships with unshakeable confidence in my abilities. However, maturing into adulthood made it painfully clear that other women experienced a far less empowering reality.
As a female entrepreneur building a world-class brand in Ghana, I have been told many times that one thing or another is too difficult or downright impossible to achieve. KAEME’s journey, nevertheless, has proved to me that every obstacle is a mere challenge that can be overcome with courage, ingenuity and collaboration. I believe the same can be said of the gender inequality our world is faced with today. Much has been said of the obstacles to women’s representation across the various facets of global leadership and decision-making, many of which are rooted in limiting beliefs and constrictive systems that largely relegate us as spectators in the affairs that directly impact us. Yet, these obstacles to our inclusion can be overcome with courage, ingenuity and teamwork, and we are the generation that must #ChooseToChallenge each of them.
The statistics on gender disparities in political and economic spheres across the globe indicate that there is much more room for progress. A recent report by the UN Secretary-General stated that women hold only 21% of global ministerial positions and that only 24.9% of national parliamentarians are women. It also pointed out that although data from 2018 showed that women make up 45% of the public administration workforce, only 34% of them occupy decision-making roles. Even in the fight against COVID-19, female frontline health sector workers have been found to earn 11% less for their work despite facing the same risks as their male colleagues. It will take courage for us to eliminate the barriers erected against women’s access to the knowledge and prospects to develop our full potential, whether that means a more gender-inclusive approach to formal education or dismantling prejudices against a woman’s capacity to lead. At KAEME, we took the bold step to prioritise partnering with women through sourcing, hiring and internships, and this continues to provide sustainable incomes and valuable work experience.
We must also #ChooseToChallenge gender inequality with ingenuity and a fresh outlook on what it means to actualise equal rights and opportunities. The world has never been more primed for positive, innovative change, and our generation holds the key to starting the conversations and inspiring the actions we need to create a world where women feel safe, valued, free and equipped to accomplish great things for our collective benefit. By harnessing our diverse cultural perspectives and disruptive attitude towards problem-solving, we stand to make significant strides in challenging the equality status quo in every corner of the world.
I have found collaboration to be a pivotal catalyst of success in my personal and professional endeavours, and I believe tackling gender inequality is no different. It will take both women and the men who stand with us as allies to carve a future that challenges gender bias and promotes inclusion. Together, we can acknowledge our shortfalls with respect and complement our intrinsic strengths with a shared sense of vision. Together, we can prove that heralding women’s achievements is neither discriminatory nor emasculating: it is simply bringing into balance centuries of being overlooked and under-represented.
As we celebrate women all over the world today for their social, economic, cultural and political impact – whether within our communities or on the global stage – I hope we draw closer to embracing an inclusive world; one in which we #ChooseToChallenge gender inequality, both apparent and nuanced. I hope we recognise that having more women in leadership ultimately secures a future in which we are all allowed to become our very best, for the greater good of our shared humanity.
Happy International Women’s Day, with love from us at KAEME.
Founder and Chief Mixer, KAEME